Lebanon News

UNIFIL refurbishes public kindergartens in south Lebanon

UNIFIL peacekeepers at a revamped classroom. (The Daily Star/UNIFIL, HO)

SIDON, Lebanon: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon inaugurated its latest project in the country’s south last week, providing a number of public kindergartens in the Jabal Amel area with basic classroom necessities.

The Jabal Amel Union of Municipalities lies in southern Lebanon and is an essentially deprived community. Israel occupied the area for 25 years until its withdrawal in 2000. In 2006, residents again faced the wrath of Israeli aggression, as their homes were bombarded and destroyed during its war on Lebanon.

UNIFIL often invests in the south’s underdeveloped regions. The latest project entailed equipping ten local kindergartens with wooden and plastic boards, chairs, tables, and closets. The Spanish contingent donated toys for the children of the refurbished classrooms and covered the costs of the project.

The aid, which totaled almost $26,000, was welcomed by residents, as the state has been largely absent from the community, and social services remain neglected and scarce. The influx of Syrian refugees has placed immense pressure on state and local service providers alike. Schools have struggled to absorb the arrival of Syrian students, while the availability of basic necessities, already constrained by inadequate centralized state planning, has declined enormously.

The donations are intended to help the municipalities provide a safe environment in which children may pursue their education, and to allow the region’s public schools to accommodate a greater number of Syrian refugee students. Around 280 Syrian and Lebanese students and their teachers will directly benefit from the project.

The Union of Jabal Amel Municipalities, established in 2006, is comprised of delegates from the region’s 16 municipalities, and represents some 60,000 citizens and 20,000 Syrian refugees. Most of the municipalities were established in 2000 following the Israeli withdrawal.

The project is intended to help local officials fulfill the country’s duties toward its citizenry by providing them with the means to help its youngest residents safely pursue their education.

The inauguration ceremony was a joyous event, attended by representatives from UNIFIL, the municipality, and the Ministry of Education. Army representatives and local officials were also present.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 08, 2015, on page 4.

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